Anantnag: Top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant Abu Dujana and his associate Arif Nabi Dar were killed on Tuesday in an early morning encounter with government forces here in Hakripora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Dujana alias Hafiz, a category A++ militant, was from Gilgit region of Pakistan Administered Kashmir while Arif alias Rehan, a category A+ militant, belonged to Lelhar village in Pulwama district.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Munir Khan confirmed the killings and the identity of the militants at a joint press conference with the General Officers Commanding (GOCs) of the Chinar Corps and Victor Force.
“We tried hard to make the militants surrender. Even the services of the house owner were also utilised to try and make the militants surrender, but they opened fire and the quantum of fire was very heavy,” Khan said.
According to police, there were specific inputs regarding the presence of militants in the area, following which a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) was launched in Hakripora area.
“The cordon was laid at around 4 am today. Ten to twelve houses were surrounded on basis of information,” a police official said.
GOC Chinar Corps J S Sandhu said the operation began only after all trapped civilians were safely evacuated.
Sources said the holed-up militants opened fire at the government forces surrounding the house, triggering a fierce gun battle.
The gunfight raged for about two hours before the forces blew up the house the militants, resulting in the killing of both militants.
Widespread clashes were witnessed around the encounter site and in other parts of Pulwama district.
A civilian was shot dead, by forces, while many others were injured during the clashes.
After the retrieval of the bodies from the encounter site and the completion of medico-legal formalities, the body of the local militant was handed over to his family.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral of the local militant, Arif Nabi, in Lelhar.
However a large number of people were also turned away, for the area had been heavily dotted with government forces personnel all around the site of the funeral.
“Militants have been appearing at the funerals, and the heavy deployment was made to curb the practice, so as to try and not provide them safe passage towards the funeral, where they instigate people further,” a senior police official told Kashmir Reader.
Abu Dujana’s body, however, has not been handed over to the locals.
IGP Munir Khan said standard procedure will be followed with his last rites.
“We will first intimate the Pakistani embassy. If they do not claim him, he will be given a proper burial here,” Khan told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile the police have alleged that the slain were involved in a number of militancy-related activities including bank robberies.
Who was Dujana?
Dujana escaped from more than half a dozen Cordon and Search Operations before being killed on Tuesday. Dujana’s last successful escape was exactly thirteen days ago, on July 19, when he evaded an ambush laid by government forces who had been following him from an undisclosed location to Banderpora village in Pulwama district.
“After spending several months in north Kashmir, Dujana finally moved to Pulwama and became a shadow of the then-LeT commander, Abu Qasim, also a Pakistani national,” a senior police official from south Kashmir told Kashmir Reader.
Dujana rose within the ranks of the LeT soon after Qasim was killed on October 29 2015, in Kandipora village of Kulgam district.
“Technically, Dujana replaced Qasim and was mighty effective ever since,” the official said.
Police described Dujana as the divisional commander of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, his sidelining within the outfit ranks is an open secret.
“Another Paksitani, Abu Ismail, who carried out the attack on the Amaranth Yatris this year, has been elevated at the cost of Dujana, which further alienated him from the outfit, subsequent to his already-brewing disgruntlement,” a police official said on condition of anonymity.
Dujana had maintained a comparative passivity for over a year now, which the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Chinar Corps, J S Sandhu, also maintained in a presser today.
“He, in his operational capabilities, has not been involved in many terrorist activities over the last year or so. He had become more of a nuisance than anything else,” Sandhu said.
Sandhu added that Dujana was enjoying himself in the Kashmir Valley now.
“Ayyashi kar raha tha woh yahan par,” Sandhu told media persons.
Moreover, the police official told Kashmir Reader, that word was that the estranged Hizb commander, Zakir Moosa, had accompanied Dujana in the Banderpora ambush on July 19.